As the UN Secretary-General stated on World Day of Social Justice 2014, “The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing. This situation is not only between countries but within them, including many of the most prosperous.”
As we’ve been seeing through the development of the new global development policies, we still face a need to evaluate both international processes and frameworks to identify gaps and also the methods to fill the remaining gaps. In this sense, civil society organizations (CSOs) have a great responsibility in reminding duty bearers and the international community of their obligations based on previous commitments and their omissions in new processes and frameworks. Hence, CSOs have the duty to fill the gaps, both theoretical and physical, both on scope and process by emphasizing the need to fulfill human rights obligations through a holistic approach and by advocating for and actively participating in participatory mechanisms.
This LT issue exposes some ways CSOs are filling the gaps both on content and processes in the current international frameworks. For instance, the 42nd session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) held many positive outcomes for the efforts of civil society, represented through the Civil Society Mechanism, such as the adoption of the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises, the inclusion of water in the discussion of implications for food security and nutrition, and the proposal of a monitoring mechanisms for the CFS.
Similarly, the recently formed Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles has been advocating in the Climate Change Conference of Parties (CoP) to further develop real solutions through the dialogue with frontline communities. The public event at Paris during the COP21 sought to advance this dialogue by giving the platform to frontline communities and ensuring space for interaction with the audience. Moreover, an analysis of the presence of land issues in the adopted Sustainable Development Goals in this LT explores the relevance of security of tenure both as a tool to end poverty and to mitigate climate-change effects and ecosystem degradation. While tenure security is not mentioned in Goal 15 (sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems), frontline communities try to fill the gap by stating the need for structural shifts toward more-sustainable practices, including traditional land management and agro-ecology.
Moreover, concerning the Habitat III preparation process, an Urban Thinkers Campus on adequate housing, as reported here, has recognized the important role of Habitat III in filling the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda gaps in specifying habitat indicators, including the respect, protection and fulfillment of tenure security for the progressive realization of the human right to adequate housing. Furthermore, the regional meeting of the Global Platform for the Right to the City has stated the need to create additional research products and further develop the concept of Right to the city. In the MENA region, the participants of the Expert Group Meeting on the Habitat III Regional Report has proposed to restore human rights and gender equality as a transversal issue in the report, among other recommendations.
“The Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations of Local Governments” explores how the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement controversy may invoke inquiry into double standards applied even in the UN Security Council’s sanctions regime. This debate addresses the enduring gap in states’ enforcement of peremptory norms of international law, including specific human rights treaties in their dealings with external parties.
This LT issue follows up on and explores the civil society engagement in Yemen’s transitional justice through land reparation, as well as spatial justice in Egypt by analyzing unequal distribution of resources in Cairo.
Finally, at the regional level, as well as in global processes, these and other gaps provide opportunities to fill them with human rights-based solutions. This LT issue explores how civil societies everywhere rise to the occasion.